“Black Widow” pits superhero against giant

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Scarlett Johansson at the 35th Film Independent Spirit Awards in Santa Monica, California, February 8, 2020. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson

NEW YORK, July 30 (Reuters Breakingviews) - An actor who takes on Walt Disney (DIS.N) is brave, though not necessarily foolhardy. Scarlett Johansson has filed a lawsuit against the Magic Kingdom read more over its decision to release her “Black Widow” movie simultaneously in theaters and on its own streaming service .

Johansson says Disney’s split release lessened her pay, which was tied to box-office sales but not showings on Disney+, under a contract drawn up before Covid-19 hit. The cost of angering the Mouse House isn’t small. Disney+ has over 100 million subscribers, thanks to franchises like Star Wars and Marvel. It says the lawsuit is “sad” and “distressing.”

The dispute is worth watching because what happens to the “Black Widow” star may give an insight into the power dynamics of streaming. Netflix (NFLX.O) and (AMZN.O) are also paying up for talent to feed their digital services. Netflix recently signed Steven Spielberg and expanded its contract with Disney alum Shonda Rhimes read more . In fighting a box-office superhero, even a giant can overplay its hand. (By Jennifer Saba)

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Editing by John Foley and Amanda Gomez

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